Faith rewarded

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Faith rewarded

Alex Chapman, senior, attended five of the seven Stanley Cup Finals games.

Alex Chapman, senior, attended five of the seven Stanley Cup Finals games.

Annie George

Alex Chapman, senior, attended five of the seven Stanley Cup Finals games.

Annie George

Annie George

Alex Chapman, senior, attended five of the seven Stanley Cup Finals games.

Alex Chapman, senior, looked up as her father walked through the front door with a large silver cup in his hands. Beaming, he made his way to a small table draped in a black NHL tablecloth and placed the 3-foot tall cup down, where it was soon surrounded by his family and friends.

“The Stanley Cup is in my living room,” Alex said to herself.

It was the culmination of a journey her father, Steve Chapman, began as a child playing street hockey in Boston. Here, he quickly became a Boston Bruins fan and credits them for inspiring him to pursue hockey as a sales executive in the minor leagues. At an early age, he moved to Alabama, where he met his wife Cindy and eventually became General Manager of a team called the Mobile Mystics (who became a Bruins affiliate in 2015). While there, Steve and some colleagues gained ownership of the team and relocated to Atlanta, where Alex and her brother, Connor, were born.

The Stanley Cup is in my living room.”

— Alex Chapman

“Hockey is everything [to Steve],” Cindy said. “It’s how he met me. Our kids were raised going to the games all the time and there’s just a close bond with hockey people. I think it’s interesting that everything revolves around the hockey events in [our] lives.”

In 2015, the Blues hired Steve as executive vice president and chief revenue officer, and the Chapmans moved to St. Louis. Steve said the city’s hockey culture instantly impressed him, and his family of Bruins fans quickly became Blues fans. But despite the support of St. Louis, the Blues had yet to win a Stanley Cup in their 47 seasons … and as Steve worked there season 48 passed, and then 49. When season 52 began he said the organization felt optimistic, but by Jan. 3, 2019 the Blues held the worst record in the NHL.

“There were times where I was like ‘What is going on?’” Steve said. “I think a lot of us, including the fans, thought this was a good team that just hadn’t gotten it together yet.”

Yet the Chapmans said they continued to have faith in the Blues’ future. In the second half of the season, the team’s trajectory shifted and the Blues won 11 straight games, which led them to qualify for the playoffs.

I’m so lucky to be in the position I’m in. People have waited years for this, decades, and I get to experience this. I don’t think anything can compare to this in my life.”

— Alex Chapman

“They couldn’t have done that without St. Louis,” Alex said. “After all the hockey towns I’ve been in, there’s something different about St. Louis. They’re in it no matter what, even if we’re in last place.”

And Alex said the fans certainly were “in it” for home games during the playoffs, which the Chapmans attended. She said from the first whistle the crowds were loud … and they grew louder. They grew louder as the Blues beat the Winnipeg Jets in the first round. Louder still as they scraped past the Dallas Stars in seven games in the second. And even louder as the Blues beat the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference Finals.

The Blues were playing in the Stanley Cup Finals — and this family of former Bruins fans would watch the Blues play in their first Finals appearance since a 1970 loss to Boston.

“I’m so lucky to be in the position I’m in,” Alex said. “People have waited years for this, decades, and I get to experience this. I don’t think anything can compare to this in my life.”

The Chapmans attended four of the first six games of the series, which the Blues and Bruins split. This set up a decisive game seven in Boston. In an act of gratitude for their employees’ work, the Blues brought them to Boston, where the Chapmans sat in a small cluster of blue among the black and gold.

“Once the game started I was so stressed out,” Alex said. “It was do or die. Obviously, scoring two goals in the first period relieved us a little bit, and then as the game went on, we kept scoring. It felt so surreal like we can win this thing, we can do this.”

The Blues scored two more goals in the third period, making it 4-1 as the final minutes on the clock counted down. Finally, it read 00:00, and the Blues stormed the ice.

They were Stanley Cup Champions.

After the game and surrounded by Cindy, Alex and Connor, Steve lifted the Stanley Cup on the ice of his childhood team. It was a mere 40 miles north of where he started watching hockey.

“For 27 years I’ve been chasing a cup of some kind, and I’ve gotten close a couple of times in the past but I’ve never won it,” Steve said. “It’s that feeling of we did it. It’s faith rewarded, and history made.”